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Do Green-Lipped Mussels Ease Arthritis Pain?

The research is inconclusive, but a reader reports that New Zealand green-lipped mussels ease arthritis pain for the whole family, including the dog.
Do Green-Lipped Mussels Ease Arthritis Pain?
Fresh raw New Zealand green-lip mussels on a cutting board

Have you thought of taking a medicine that helps your dog or cat? Taking veterinary medicine could be a big mistake. People and animals may respond differently to medications. However, one couple was impressed with how green-lipped mussels ease arthritis in their dog, so they decided to try it themselves.

Will New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels Ease Arthritis?

Q. Our vet prescribed medication for our older dog with arthritis. This tablet contains New Zealand green-lipped mussels and it seems to help her.

We started thinking it might help our arthritis too, if we could find people-grade supplements. We did and we’ve been taking them for about four months, and they’ve helped our pain significantly. Your readers might like to know.

I’ve tried several of the suggestions from your website, such as gin-soaked raisins, cherry juice and Certo. None of those made a difference.

What Are Green-Lipped Mussels?

A. Green-lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus) contain omega-3 fatty acids. The Maori of New Zealand have been eating these shellfish for centuries.

Studies in dogs, cats and horses suggest that extracts of the mussels ease arthritis pain (Veterinary Sciences, March 27, 2018).  Human research using green-lipped mussel (GLM) extracts have been less positive. One randomized controlled trial found no difference in pain or function between people taking GLM and those on placebo (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Aug. 22, 2017). 

Until there is better evidence to support the use of GLM, we would suggest that most people get their omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Some evidence suggests that fish oil supplements may have anti-inflammatory activity (Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Sept. 2017). Scientists who conducted a meta-analysis of 42 clinical trials concluded that the evidence is strongest for marine oil supplements easing the pain and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis (Nutrients, Jan. 6, 2017).

Your experience confirms what we have long suspected. People differ in their responses to supplements and remedies as well as to medications. We are glad that you have found green-lipped mussels ease arthritis pain for you.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Citations
  • Eason CT et al, "Greenshell™ mussels: A review of veterinary trials and future research directions." Veterinary Sciences, March 27, 2018. DOI: 10.3390/vetsci5020036
  • Stebbings S et al, "A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness and safety of a novel green-lipped mussel extract -BioLex® -for managing pain in moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the hip and knee." BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Aug. 22, 2017. DOI: 10.1186/s12906-017-1907-9
  • Akbar U et al, "Omega-3 fatty acids in rheumatic diseases: A critical review." Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, Sept. 2017. DOI: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000000563
  • Senftleber NK et al, "Marine oil supplements for arthritis pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials." Nutrients, Jan. 6, 2017. DOI: 10.3390/nu9010042
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